Engineers, hobbyists, and inventors of all ages were present at the 5th annual Vancouver Mini Maker Faire earlier this month to show off and compare their various creations. We here at Progressive Automations thought it would be a great idea to head down and see what local builders, engineers, and inventors were capable of and to let them know that we would be glad to help them in their future creative endeavors.
There was a wide array of projects and demonstrations on display from "Makers" of all kinds including university/college students, local businesses and people just doing it for fun. Some of the more notable projects included a giant mechanical snake (that was, unfortunately, running into some technical difficulties) and a robotic prosthesis that looked like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.
You may have noticed that recently we have added PLC controls and microcontrollers to our already vast selection of control systems. We did this because we wanted to offer even more advanced control options for our customers to take advantage of and because they are such a prominent control type in today's technological landscape. That was very apparent at this year's Maker Faire, with many creations using such controllers in their design. There were many miniature robotic devices using Arduino microcontrollers, exactly like the ones we carry in stock. These control devices allow for almost limitless control capabilities and many examples of those control types were on display.
One section of the fair was dedicated to local engineering students from various universities and colleges in the area including UBC, SFU, and BCIT. The student project that stood out the most to us was the UBC Sailboat, a fully autonomous sailboat designed by more than 60 different students from the university. The Sailboat is an annual project from UBC but this year's model is aiming to become the first automated sailing boat ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It runs off of solar power and wind propulsion and uses complex sensor technology, satellite communications, and course planning software with the help of installed microcontrollers and actuators.
However, the most impressive displays at this year's Maker Faire were also the largest, the Titanboa, a 50 ft long electromechanical snake and Prosthesis, a 15 ft tall robot powered by human movement. Both projects run off a mix of electric and mechanical hardware and were brought to life with the help of Vancouver's eatART Foundation, a local group that "fosters art research with a focus on large-scale, technically sophisticated art by supporting both independent and internal art projects" according to their website.
The Prosthesis, in particular, stood out to us with its unique hybrid-electric power source and featured many hydraulic actuators in its design. The Prosthesis is still in its early stages and we hope to work with the creators on future designs using our linear actuators. If you'd like to see the Prosthesis in action check out our video at the bottom of this post.